5 Things To Help Secure A Successful Relationship

15 December 2009 at 11:25 pm (Life, Love & Relationships, Toronto Life) (, , , , , , , , )


I think this article written by Shayla Duval is amazing and on point. And not just because I recognize the mistakes I’ve made but because it makes complete sense even for the dumbest person to understand. LOL.

1. Be good friends

If your image of an ideal relationship is based on anything you’ve seen in a mainstream chick-flick, do yourself a favour and catapult that image out of your head right now.You know how we girls complain that porn gives men unrealistic expectations of women? Well chick-flicks are the female porn: they tell us that out there waiting for all of us is a perfect, one-dimensional, “normal” man  and such a creature just doesn’t exist.

Chances are, the majority of us aren’t going to marry men who are conventionally gorgeous, who don’t fart around us and think it’s hilarious, who aren’t into some unusual sex thing that (at least initially) weirds us out, who don’t watch porn… Guaranteed: the guy you end up with is going to have at least one of these things “wrong” with him.

So I say worry less about romance. It has its place, sure, but at the end of the day what you’re really looking for is someone you can be friends with. For me, that means things like being a good listener, having some common interests and sharing my sense of humour. These are the things that are going to help you stand each other’s company for extended periods of time and keep you together when things get rough.

Being friends before you enter into a romantic relationship is probably the ideal way to go about this, but sometimes not the most realistic way. If you date right from the start, the best advice is probably just to take it slow and focus on getting to know each other.If the guy you’re dating keeps pressing to move faster, physically or emotionally, take it as a sign that you two want different things.

2. Give sex the respect it deserves

This might sound uncharacteristically old-fashioned of me (and maybe even unrealistic I don’t actually know, I haven’t started dating a guy since high school), but I believe in waiting a good while before having sex with a guy if you’re serious about looking for a relationship. It’s not because I have any problem with casual sex or because I think it will ruin what would otherwise have been the perfect relationship (and in fact, I know at least one long-term couple who had sex before they started dating); it’s because having sex releases bonding hormones in women. Basically, if you have sex with a guy, your body might trick you into having feelings for him or being committed to him, even if he’s not actually a great match for you.

That being said, once you’re in a relationship, sex takes on a different kind of importance. I’ve already dedicated a whole article to this topic, so I won’t repeat myself too much, but let me briefly reiterate: whatever your thoughts, desires and beliefs about sex are, they’re okay  as long as you share all that with your partner and you come to some understanding and compromise that works for both of you.

3. Don’t expect him to change

There are some things that change naturally in a relationship: couples do tend, with time, to become a little more similar to each other in terms of common interests, habits and even some beliefs. For the most part, however, what you see in a man is what you get. His chronic tardiness, his addiction to his work, his obsession with sports, his love of recreational drugs  whatever it is that might bug you about him, chances are it’s here to stay.

You can try to change him, but be warned: most guys don’t want to change. Most menpeople want to be loved and accepted the way they are. When we feel like our partner’s love for us is highly conditional (or is based on the belief that we’ll change in the future), things sometimes turn sour.

So what can you do? Ask yourself some hard questions: if I knew for certain that this is the person he’s going to be for the rest of his life, would I stay with him? Can I live with and accept him just as he is? If the answer to those questions isn’t “yes,” you need to decide how long you’re willing to wait for changes that may never happen.

4. Argue constructively

I have a personal rule about when things piss me off in my relationship: either call it out or get over it. If I’m really, truly mad about something and I think Andrew caused or contributed to it, I tell him I’m angry at him and why. I know a lot of girls who sulk and expect guys to figure it all out on their own, but that usually takes like ten times longer to get things resolved (if the guy’s astute enough to even notice you’re angry).

I don’t use angry language, I just basically say, “Andrew, you left your evening dishes in the sink and just expected me to do them because I do the breakfast dishes so you can get to work on time. I’m angry about it because I feel like you’re taking my generosity for granted.” And then he’ll say, “No, I thought we agreed that this was one of your chores” or (preferably) “Oh, baby, I’m so sorry. I appreciate you always doing the breakfast dishes and I’ll try to remember to do my own other dishes from now on.”Either way, we’ve reached the point where we’re discussing the problem and making progress.

If you decide it’s not a big enough issue to discuss, get over it. Don’t sulk about it privately and hold it against the other person, because they have no idea what they’ve done and it’s not fair.

Alternatively, sometimes it’s okay to be just mad. There are times when I’m pissed at Andrew, and the rational part of my brain knows it isn’t his fault, but I’m still just madabout the whole thing. Instead of taking it out on him or trying to “cheer up” when I’m spitting fire, I find it works best for me to just say to him, “I know this isn’t your fault, but I just can’t help feeling mad at the situation. I need to spend some time away from you for a little bit to cool down, and I swear I’ll be over it by the next time you see me.You don’t need to do anything  just leave me alone for a bit and I’ll get over it.”

The most important thing is to stay focused. Your goal here is to resolve the issue, and the best way to do that is to be constructive. Resist the urge to say things just to hurt the other person’s feelings, even if they’ve hurt yours.

5. Know and support each other

Do you ever wonder about what the real purpose of a romantic relationship might be?Yeah, sure, biologically it’s supposed to be about producing and raising children and all that, but what about beyond that? Personally, I think it’s about just being a team. It’s about taking care of each other, sharing your life with each other and the comfort that comes with knowing there’s someone who’ll be there for you when you need them.

The first step to supporting someone is to know them. No, I’m not just repeating #1. I think it’s really important to ask about your partner’s aspirations, fears and beliefs. If all went perfectly well, where would they like to be in ten years? In twenty? What do they think is the most important thing in life? What choices do they regret? These are important questions to ask, not just once but periodically because people change. The only way you can hope to know an ever-changing being (not just a romantic partner, but friends and family members too) on such an intimate level is to ask them important questions from time to time and listen hard.

Just talking to someone about their life and their goals helps them to evaluate their progress and think about the steps they need to take to achieve their dreams. It also helps you to stay connected as a team and keep you aware of where you’re headed together.

Well, that’s my two cents – take it or leave it. As usual, I turn the discussion over to you guys: what are your top tips for finding the right person and making a relationship work?

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4 Comments

  1. Bonnie said,

    Ms. Lanfrey,this one is an on-time blessing! Especially reading number 3. We know each other outside if this site, so you know EXACTLY why this is important and relative for me. If you know that this is the man that he’s going to be for the rest of his life… I’m tearing up because the man I’m loving now…if this is how he’s going to be for the rest of his life, I know I’m going to be one of the most blessed and happy women born in the year of 86. Thanks Sis.

  2. Shayla said,

    Hey Corprah,

    Thanks so much for re-posting my article! When Shannon first asked me to write a piece on this topic I drew a total blank, but it’s been really interesting to try to break down the fundamental components of relationships to see what works.

    Anyway, glad you like the article and thanks for passing it on.
    Shayla

    • Corprah Lanfrey said,

      You’re very welcome. I thank YOU for writing such an informative and relatable piece.

  3. Shannon T. Boodram said,

    YAY Shalya 😀

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